Sunday, October 24, 2010

TSS: Cybils Time! (and Six Book Reviews)

October is winding down but I've had quite the book month. Cybils nominations. My un-birthday book club month. Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon. The Texas Book Festival. And next week at the library:  my identical twin sister, Zebby Zance, will visit to tell the children at my school some spooky stories. (Wish I could tell spooky stories, but, unlike my sister, I am a big baby when it comes to scary tales.) Here's Zebby from last year:

I am very happy with the reading I completed last week. One travel narrative. Two 1001 Children's Books. One 1001 Grownup Book. One book for review. One YA I'd heard lots about.

Here are my reviews:

The Spice Necklace by Ann Vanderhoof

I like travelogues. I like books about cooking. The Spice Necklace is a two-fer, about both travel and cooking.

It’s part two of the story of a couple who sold most of what they owned and zipped off to live on a boat (see part one, Vanderhoof’s first book, An Embarrassment of Mangoes, for more information). Now the couple is sailing around the Caribbean, visiting beautiful places, and sampling (and attempting) Caribbean cooking.

 Nothing by Janne Teller

Could this be the bleakest YA ever? It would get my vote.

Here is the story: Pierre decides that nothing matters, walks out of his classroom, climbs up into a tree, and refuses to come down. The others in his classroom feel compelled to try to convince Pierre that some things do matter. Using increasingly bizarre and horrific methods, Pierre’s classmates attempt to demonstrate that things matter.

While I respect what this author was doing with this book, it is most definitely not my cuppa tea.

 Breaking Night by Liz Murray

Liz was born to a mother and father whose lives were ruled by their addictions to alcohol and drugs. From an early age, Liz did not receive enough to eat, skipped school, had no supervision, and, eventually, drifted into homelessness. Yet, somehow, Liz managed to beat all these obstacles, complete high school, and win a scholarship to Harvard. A fascinating story.

Thank you to Hyperion for sending me this book for review.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman


Bod, a human boy, is sent to the graveyard to live in an attempt to elude those who would kill him. All of his companions, including his adopted parents, are dead. Bod is educated and kept safe for many years until, one day, his would-be killers return.

I’m not a scary-book-person and this will never be on my list of favorites as a result. But, if you are such a creature, The Graveyard Book just might be on your top ten list.

 Amazon Adventure by Willard Price


Two boys, Roger and Hal, travel with their father down the Amazon in search of creatures for zoos. They fight cannibalistic Indians, piranhas, crocodiles, and even an angry anteater. This is an adventure book filled with excitement and drama and scares. There are any number of not-so-politically-correct moments and, as a parent, Roger got on my last nerve, but I loved reading this book.

(BTW, this is a photo of the actual book I checked out from the Houston Public Library. It has a copyright of 1949. I loved carrying this book around.)

The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith

A 1001 Books You Must Read

Mr. Pooter keeps a diary in which he recalls all the events of his days. He seeks to attain social status, but, time and again, finds humiliation instead.

The copyright date on this book is 1892, but the story feels as fresh as yesterday. Funny. A little sad. And, most of all, insightful.


  1. Interesting collection of books here. I think that's one thing wonderful about books - so many genres to take us different directions.

    Thoughts in Progress

  2. I nominated you for an award:

  3. That cover for Nothing is one of the bleakest I've ever seen. Then again, probably perfect for October.

  4. That cover for Nothing is one of the bleakest I've ever seen. Then again, probably perfect for October.

  5. I just received Breaking Night as an ARC also. It was favorably reviewed in the NYT and I'm looking forward to it. Good to see your positive comments as well.

  6. The Diary of a Nobody appealed because of your comments and when it was written.

    I'm totally clueless how a book like Nobody could be published. I get it as to Why but there's better out there.

    Don't like scary stuff so will pass.

    But big applause for you for such thoughtful reviews. Thank you!

  7. The Spice Necklace is a book I think I'd enjoy! Thanks for the heads-up!

  8. Hi!!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and visiting the Follow Friday 40 and Over Blog Hop!

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  9. Very impressed with the number of books you finished in a week! Thanks for commenting on my Sunday Salon post.


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